ExxonMobil and ERHC receive order for Gulf of Guinea

Jan 02, 2004 01:00 AM

ExxonMobil and Environmental Remediation Holding Company (ERHC) have been directed to begin the process of exercising options on their oil blocks in the Gulf of Guinea immediately.
Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Mallam Saidu Balarabe who stated this in Abuja said the directive was agreed upon by ministers and ex officio members of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Authority at the end of their 5th Ministerial meeting in Abuja.

Balarabe said already, Chairman of the Authority, Dr Tajudeen Umar, has been asked to inform ExxonMobil and Environmental Remediation Holding Company, (ERHC) the decision of the body on the issue. The minister also emphasised the need to harmonise the activities of the two companies who previously acted independently of each other.
He stated that the discussions held between the two countries were cordial and frank. He added that the key issues discussed included the license granted to the two companies to exercise their options at the Guinea Gulf as well as the consideration and unanimous approval of the 2002 audit report of the Authority by the Council.

The Minister also announced the award of scholarships to seven Sao Tome citizens at the Petroleum Training Institute, Warri. He spoke on the need for Nigeria and Sao Tome to come up with strategies to achieve the same level of success in other areas of the region.
Balarabe said the Authority needs to consider the commencement of work immediately on the development of other resources such as fisheries, and directed the Authority to ensure adequate security for the investment of operators in the zone.

Expressing satisfaction with the JDZ, Balarabe said "since its establishment in 2002, the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) has been a great success, it is the first in its kind where two countries come together to solve a problem which ordinarily would have resulted to war."
The Minister further revealed that President Olusegun Obasanjo approved a loan of $ 8 mm to JDA for its operations andexpressed optimism that in the not too distant future, the authority would become self-sufficient.
"Funding has not been a problem as in 2003, the Authority earned close to $ 2 mm," Balarabe said.

Allaying fears expressed in some quarters that Nigeria has expansionist ambitions in the area, Balarabe said, "Nigeria has never declared any such ambition of holding the territory, they have not done it before and President Olusegun Obasanjo is not interested. What we want is to promote mutual benefits through enduring relationship which is agreeable to the two countries."
The Sao Tome Minister of Natural Resources, Mr Tome Vera Cruz who led his country's delegation to the meeting has since returned home.

Nigeria and Sao Tome under a 45 year treaty signed in 2001, administer the Joint Development Zone which is renewable after 30 years and gives Nigeria 60 % share of the resources and Sao Tome 40 %.

Source: This Day
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